We recently received this letter in our office. It is from an anonymous Case Manager. We can’t respond personally so here is our public response.
We want you to know that we hear you. We know that you are overworked and feel burdened by the many pressures that the Department and your work as a Case Manager have brought on in recent years. We know that you just want a break and really want this new Rehab contract to bring it to you and your colleagues. After all, that’s the promise that VAC is making to you, isn’t it?
We wish that it was true. All those promises that VAC has been making to Case Managers, we just don’t believe it. Why? Let’s look at the facts.
First of all, this is not the first, second, third or tenth promise that VAC has made to Case Managers to improve their lives and working conditions. For about 10 years they have been promising to reduce case loads and get it back to the goal of 25:1. You might notice they no longer promise that. How many cases are you managing? 30, 35, 40? Some Case Managers are trying to juggle in excess of 50 cases.
The response from VAC… ‘Well, they must be able to handle it’ or ‘They’ll let us know when it’s too much’ Really???
We have nothing against the new Rehab contractor. They are simply doing the government’s bidding and filling the space that VAC chooses not to fill with employees. Our issue is with the Department who had a choice of hiring more Case Managers and decided to contract out the work. The new Rehab contract just continues a long pattern of reducing and diminishing the role and responsibilities of Case Managers and transferring them to a profit-making organization. It is a fundamental question of whether or not public services should be provided by a private for-profit contractor, or public service employees focusing on the quality of the service and not the quantity.
The big question that we would like you to consider in all of this is actually only partially about you and your fellow Case Managers. Yes, the Union is trying to protect jobs, including yours. But do you really believe that after your job gets hollowed out again after this contract that VAC will need your services as a Case Manager? When your job description gets drastically changed and a significant portion of your delegated authority is removed, do you think that will not have an impact upon your job classification and rate of pay? The really big question is whether or not this contract will be better for the Veterans that you serve?
Will they be better off with you having less of a role in managing their files? Will the contractor worry about them and their family after they go home at night? Like you do? Will they get all the services and help they need, or will they have to fight again for those services? Without you there beside them to represent them, to argue for them, to fight for them, what happens to the most vulnerable who cannot do any of that for themselves? Who will fight for the Veterans when the contractor turns them down for something they really need?
This fight is about Case Managers and Veterans. To preserve what is left of that crucial relationship. This is not just a fight ‘in principle’. It is about our principles and fighting for what is the best thing for ourselves and the Veterans we have the honour to serve.
National President – UVAE
I just read the 14 weeks of hell post talking about CM workload and the rehab changes that are coming.
I agree CMs are overworked and don’t have time to get all their work done. This has been a struggle for years!
However I don’t agree with the tone used about the new rehab contractor. It is really not ion par with how I feel and many other of my peers.
I think that contracting out rehab logistics will take away so much administrative burden the CMs have and allows CMs to concentrate on managing Veteran needs. Finding and running after providers is so much work and takes a lot of time.
I get why UVAE would be opposed to contacting out work in principle. Though in this case I feel it is to our benefit. We contract out the professional part and it makes sense to me to also do it with the psychological and physical rehab too. Case management is the role not rehab logistics.
I am submitting my comments anonymously as in the past when I made a comment that was not in line with UVAE I got a very negative response. It made me feel that it I was “siding with the employer” because I didn’t fully agree one thing. I don’t feel comfortable expressing my feelings at meetings if they are not touting the union line. I believe in unity but I don’t always agree 100% with the union. I do not feel comfortable expressing my feeling on the 10% of stuff I am not in agreement with and don’t feel I have a way to Express that on any level with UVAE.
I truly believe that the upcoming rehab changes will benefit CMs and the Veterans and so do others. I hope you can look at this with an objective lens.
Regards,An anonymous Brother